What was the turning point where you decided to go all-in?
I have a love/hate relationship with success: I want [the album] to do well because I want people to hear it, but I also feel a lot of pressure. “Cinnamon” and “Sudden Desire” felt like songs that I would want to experience in a live setting, so then I was like, “I’m already having visions of this. I’ve made up my mind.” Mark [Mercado] convinced me to tell the label. I was like, “I wonder if they’re going to think that this means I’m trying to make a big pop record. That’s not what I want.”
How did working solo end up feeling different, if it did?
We make Paramore records very similarly — we never really know what direction we’re going to go in when we start. But everything else was different. It was super intimidating, because I’m in a band with such vastly talented human beings, so I don’t really feel drawn to get in there and call any shots. But I experimented, and my musicianship became a central character. The heart of it is to try not to shut down instincts. That was something I’ve learned from writing with Taylor. I wouldn’t say it became a formula, but Paramore definitely got comfortable. It’s so nice to have someone look at you, and have so much faith in you. You get somewhere brand-new.
You signed with Atlantic around age 14, and have taken ownership of your career ever since. How do you make sure you’re listened to?
There was a meeting [with Atlantic] that I do remember, where there were ultimatums being presented. I was a kid. I was like, “Look. I would be just as happy going back and playing music in my friend’s basement. I don’t need all this.” That is the same energy that I carried throughout my career. Throughout my life, one of the themes for me has been not feeling heard. I’m working on this in therapy. I think I long to perform songs because somewhere deep down, I want to be heard and understood. And that feeling does come along with me when I go into a meeting.
I just have to trust that what I say is true, and be bold enough to say the things that I feel. And that doesn’t mean I walk in being a bulldozer. I’m very much the opposite, and I wish I could be a bulldozer more often in business settings. Especially when I watch Succession. [Laughs.] For Petals For Armor, I sat down with [Warner Music Group CEO of recorded music] Max [Lousada] and Julie and told them, “Here are my influences and the music I’ve written thus far. I want to make something of this. And this is how I’m going to do it.”